The War With the United States : A Chronicle of 1812 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 123 pages of information about The War With the United States .

But the American grievances about these two questions were not the only motives impelling the United States to take up arms.  There were two deeply rooted national desires urging them on in the same direction.  A good many Americans were ready to seize any chance of venting their anti-British feeling; and most Americans thought they would only be fulfilling their proper ‘destiny’ by wresting the whole of Canada from the British crown.  These two national desires worked both ways for war—­supporting the government case against the British Orders-in-Council and Right of Search on the one hand, while welcoming an alliance with Napoleon on the other.  Americans were far from being unanimous; and the party in favour of peace was not slow to point out that Napoleon stood for tyranny, while the British stood for freedom.  But the adherents of the war party reminded each other, as well as the British and the French, that Britain had wrested Canada from France, while France had helped to wrest the Thirteen Colonies from the British Empire.

As usual in all modern wars, there was much official verbiage about the national claims and only unofficial talk about the national desires.  But, again as usual, the claims became the more insistent because of the desires, and the desires became the more patriotically respectable because of the claims of right.  ’Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights’ was the popular catchword that best describes the two strong claims of the United States.  ‘Down with the British’ and ‘On to Canada’ were the phrases that best reveal the two impelling national desires.

Both the claims and the desires seem quite simple in themselves.  But, in their connection with American politics, international affairs, and opposing British claims, they are complex to the last degree.  Their complexities, indeed, are so tortuous and so multitudinous that they baffle description within the limits of the present book.  Yet, since nothing can be understood without some reference to its antecedents, we must take at least a bird’s-eye view of the growing entanglement which finally resulted in the War of 1812.

The relations of the British Empire with the United States passed through four gradually darkening phases between 1783 and 1812—­the phases of Accommodation, Unfriendliness, Hostility, and War.  Accommodation lasted from the recognition of Independence till the end of the century.  Unfriendliness then began with President Jefferson and the Democrats.  Hostility followed in 1807, during Jefferson’s second term, when Napoleon’s Berlin Decree and the British.  Orders-in-Council brought American foreign relations into the five-year crisis which ended with the three-year war.

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The War With the United States : A Chronicle of 1812 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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